UGC bars online courses offered by Edtech firms, universities

New Delhi: The University Grants Commission (UGC) will take action against universities and Edtech companies offering courses in online mode in association with foreign universities without its prior approval, officials said Saturday.

In a public notice, the UGC said that no foreign higher educational institution can offer any program in India without the prior approval of the Commission and will thus not receive recognition from the UGC. Exercising its powers under the UGC Act, 1956 (as amended), the Commission notified two key regulations for foreign higher education institutions in India.

The first – University Grants Commission (Academic Collaboration between Indian and Foreign Higher Education Institutions to offer Twinning Programmes, Joint Degree, Dual Degree Programmes) Regulations, 2022; and the second University Grants Commission (Setting up and Operation of Campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023.

“The Regulations mandate that no foreign Higher Educational Institution (HEI) shall offer any program in India without the prior approval of the Commission,” the notice issued on December 12 said.

“The regulations also mandate that the HEIs shall not offer programs under any franchise arrangement and that the UGC shall not recognize such programs,” it added.

UGC said it has been observed and has also been informed that many HEIs/colleges have entered into collaborative agreements/arrangements with foreign-based educational institutions/providers not recognized by the Commission and have been facilitating the issuance of degrees to the students enrolled in those institutions/college from such foreign-based educational institutions/educational providers.

“The University Grants Commission does not recognize any such collaboration/arrangement, and accordingly, the degrees issued after such collaboration arrangement are also not recognized by the commission,” the notification added.

Under the regulations, foreign higher education institutions must secure UGC approval before establishing a campus in India. Commission permission is mandatory for any foreign institution offering programmes in the country.

Additionally, the regulations strictly prohibit educational institutions from providing programmes through franchise arrangements, with such programmes not receiving recognition from the UGC, it added.

Warning EdTech companies collaborating with foreign universities, the UGC said, “It has also come to the notice of UGC that some EdTech companies are giving advertisements in newspapers, social media television, etc., offering degree and diploma programs in online modes in association with some foreign universities/institutions.”

“Such a franchisee arrangement is not permissible, and any such program/degree shall not have UGC recognition.”

It said that action will also be taken against all the defaulting EdTech companies as well as the HEls under applicable laws/rules/regulations, it said.

“Therefore, students/general public are advised to exercise due caution and are made aware that such courses/programs/degrees do not have UGC recognition and that they would be doing it at their own risk and consequences,” the notification said